Gary: “I was reading the Book “Rock On” by Norm N Nite, “The Solid Gold Years” and I came across a singer that I had overlooked. This was purely accidental, because I do enjoy his music, so I will get right to it and give you …
1. The Gypsy Cried/ Roulette 4457/ February 1963/ #24
2. Two Faces Have I/ Roulette 4481/ April 1963/ #6
3. Lightnin’ Strikes/ MGM 13412/ January 1966/ #1
4. Rhapsody in The Rain/ MGM 13473/ April 1966/ #16
5. I’m Gonna Make You Mine/ Buddah 116/ September 1969/ #10
Lou Christie was born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, on February 19th, 1943, in Glen Willard, Pennsylvania. A former student of classical music, he moved to New York in 1963 where he sang backing vocals on a variety of sessions. Lou recorded unsuccessfully with such groups as “the Classics” and “Lugee and the Lions”.
In 1963, Lugee was signed by Roulette Records and recorded his debut single for them, ‘The Gypsy Cried‘. It was only after the disc was released that he found out that a record executive had decided to give him a new stage name, Lou Christie. “And I was pissed off about it for 20 years,” he admits. “I wanted to keep my name and be a one-named performer, just “Lugee”.
‘The Gypsy Cried‘ was a local hit in Pittsburgh before New York based Roulette Records picked it up. The song became a hit across the US, climbing to number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and achieved sales in excess of one million.
The following year ‘Two Faces Have I‘ proved even more successful, reaching number 6. These two smashes earned him an invitation to join Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars, which toured the United States extensively. A romance developed between Lou and Supremes lead singer Diana Ross, but, just as his career was getting into high gear, Christie was drafted into the US military.
Lou served six months at Fort Knox and when his service was up, he resumed his career immediately. After recording a song called ‘Lightning Strikes‘, he took the master to his new label, MGM. They hated it so much that the president of the company actually took the tape and threw it in a waste basket.
Dejected, Lou moved to California to try to promote his song, which in the end, MGM decided to release after all. It took eight weeks after first appearing on the Billboard chart, but ‘Lightning Strikes‘ went all the way to number one and gave Lou his third gold record.
His next single, ‘Rhapsody In The Rain‘ proved to be controversial, so much so that entire chains of radio stations refused to play it. Lou was forced to go back into the studio to re-record some of the suggestive lyrics.
Although it seems odd by today’s standards, AM radio in the 1960s was not about to play a song about a couple making love to the rhythm of a car’s windshield wipers. The single went on to be a top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1969, this time signed to Buddah Records, Christie had his final Top 10 hit with ‘I’m Gonna Make You Mine‘, his style virtually unchanged from the earlier hits. His brand of music fell out of fashion when disco reigned in the 1970s and the singer went through an extended down period. Numerous singles followed on various labels into the 80s, but Christie was unable to regain any commercial ground.
A curious, almost anachronistic performer, he spent nearly two decades performing on the US rock ‘n’ roll revival circuit, touring often with Lesley Gore. But in the 1990s, years after scoring his first hit record, his career went on the rise again. His album, ‘Beyond The Blue Horizon‘ was released in 1994 on the Varese Sarabande label, and songs from that record have been featured in several movies, including Rain Man, A Home Of Their Own, and Dutch.
In 1999, Lou recorded his first album of all-new material in more than 20 years (Pledging My Love), and his stage shows are frequented by Tom Jones-style groupies. It isn’t uncommon for his female fans to throw bras and panties on stage while he performs. “It’s kind of flattering and kind of strange at the same time,” he says.
Christie, who now lives in New York, says he isn’t bitter about the leaner times he experienced because it prompted him to become a better showman. “All of the success that I had in the early ’60s in one way, took me away from performing,” he notes.
Today, he even cherishes all of his names.
“When I do my income taxes, when I do all of my business, everything is signed, ‘Lou Christie Sacco.’ “
… and here’s a great flashback: